For the last few weeks, we’ve been exploring challenging wine pairings. We started with artichokes and followed that up with asparagus. Last week we tackled some lesser known challenging foods, including vinegars and spicy dishes. This week, we’ll finish up the series by looking at the last of the challenging foods to pair with wine.
Challenging Foods to Pair with Wine: Soy Sauce
Shanghaidaily.com highlight’s soy sauce’s “bold salty and savory umami flavors. These qualities can accentuate sourness and tannins in wines as well as make a wine taste flabby. When served as a condiment to sushi, sashimi or dumplings, unoaked Chardonnays or dry Rieslings work quite nicely as do Brut sparkling wines. In the world of reds, fine Southern Rhone or Languedoc Grenache and Carignan wines that also have umami qualities along with moderate tannins pair quite nicely with soy sauce meat dishes.”
Challenging Foods to Pair with Wine: Chocolate
Meggan Robinson puts it very bluntly in winecooldirect.com when she says, “I’ll say it outright: I don’t think chocolate ever pairs well with dry red wine. Though some folks disagree, the combination of bitterness, acidity, sweetness, and earthiness present in good chocolate wreaks havoc on dry reds. Chocolate just makes red wine taste bitter.”
Intowine.com recommends wines “with a lower tannic load, so instead of young full bodied reds like Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s better to choose the same strains but from some older vintages, with at least 5 years of aging, when the tannins are more smooth.” They go on to say something that I found very surprising, that “to mitigate the impact of chocolate, the most natural way is to add a little bit of dairy components like cream, milk chocolate, whipped cream, dessert sauce, or simply add fruits like raspberries, blueberries or blackberries. The best solution is to choose a wine with power, not only with a great alcohol and tannic structure, but also with a high level of sugar.” Meggan Robinson recommends Port. “The sweetness and unctuous texture of port create perfect harmony with rich, dark chocolate, a balance no other wine achieves.”
Challenging Foods to Pair with Wine: Nuts
Walnuts and walnut oil are both very, very high in tannin. So you want to avoid tannic wines to avoid an unpleasant bitter and astringent taste. On the red side, go for a Beaujolais. On the white side, go for an unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay.
Challenging Foods to Pair with Wine: Barbecue Sauce
Winecooldirect.com says that the combination of sweetness, vinegary tanginess, and spice can either overwhelm a wine or make it taste bitter or tart. This site recommends a jammy Zinfandel, since it typically has a bit of residual sugar. But they say that some barbecue sauces can even overwhelm a Zin. So their top recommendation, especially for an extra spicy or extra sweet barbecue sauce, is Riesling. “Riesling’s perfect balance of high acidity and pronounced residual sugar makes it the perfect foil for even the sweetest and spiciest barbecue sauces. You may get pushback from guests who think only a red can stand up to such flavorful sauces, but the pairing is truly sublime.”
I would love to hear your ideas about wine pairings for these challenging foods. Next week, we’ll cover a few more of these challenging foods.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
WineShop At Home